15 Dec 2010

Hawaii ordered to reinstate medical care for Micronesian migrants

1:16 pm on 15 December 2010

A U.S. federal judge has ordered health benefits be restored to low-income legal migrants living in Hawaii from mainly the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Palau.

The cash-strapped U.S. state had tried to save about eight million US dollars a year by offering fewer healthcare benefits under a new plan that came into effect in July.

But the lawsuit claimed the plan discriminated against more than 7,500 migrants.

A lawyer for the migrants, Paul Alston, says the ruling reverses the exclusion.

"It's terrific news, after we filed the lawsuit and before the judge ruled we were deluged with reports from doctors in low income communities about people who were going blind because they couldn't get appropriate medication, people who were ousted from hospitals because they'd exhausted their ten-day hospital stay, even though they were suffering consequences of strokes and other terrible diseases and this basically gives people the opportunity to have lifesaving care."

Lawyer Paul Alston